As an extension to my Kenya trip, I thought about where I could head to for a couple more days of touring, as flights are the most expensive part of my journey and I wanted to see the most I could during my time away. I noticed that I was connecting in Egypt on the way home, so decided to extend here! I connected with a tour operator in Cairo who ensured I was going to see a LOT! Many thanks to GAT Tours out of Cairo for an amazing trip! To my Egyptologists for all the wonderful teaching moments I will never forget. And to my drivers and city guides who took such good care of me! I would highly recommend their services to anyone wanting a personalized experience while in Egypt.
Day 1 - March 2: Fly from Nairobi to Cairo and checked in to Novotel El Borg for 2 nights
Arriving early in the morning. I met my tour operator at the airport and was taken to my hotel where I had planned on getting about 5 hours of sleep, since I hadn't overnight! Once at my hotel there was a lot of construction work outside my window, which threw any ideas of sleep I had out the very window the noise was coming through. I decided to shower and get ready, unpack and have a coffee, and then go for a walk around the area. This walk lasted all but 20 minutes as many vehicles would stop and ask if I needed a ride, and they were not cabs. I reminded myself that, as a solo female traveler, it was probably best just to go back to my room and let the tour operator know we could leave earlier if it worked.
Once my tour guide and driver arrived, we headed out for a car tour of the city. I wanted to go to the cemetary, in the centre of the city, as I was told it many homeless people live here with their deceased family, as the shelters are protected. My guides advised this is no longer allowed due to the crime, and not even they are allowed to go in. You need formal approval from an official government department to go inside at all. I was ok with hearing from them that safety was an issue and I didn't need to see it after all. I was able to grab some pictures as we drove by though.
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We attended to the large outdoor marketplace. What a beautiful place and so many people! I so wanted to take several Egyptian metal lamps home but did not feel like using my time here to figure out how to get them shipped home! After a long and fabulous day, I ended up back at my hotel around 11pm. Tomorrow would be another early day!
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The hotel was ok and served my purposes of a home base just fine. It was situated overlooking the nile river so watching the activities below in the evening was pretty fun. I had a great breakfast included which was nice.
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Accomodations: 2 nights at the Novotel El Borg, Nile Deluxe Room: https://all.accor.com/hotel/6600/index.en.shtml?utm_campaign=seo+maps&utm_medium=seo+maps&utm_source=google+Maps
Day 2 - March 3: Pyramids, Museum, and Nile Cruise
After having breakfast and watching the sunrise over the nile outside my window, my driver picked me up early and this time he had an Egyptologist with him. I enjoyed this man's company so very much and learned a great deal about Egypt history! We first visited the Giza pyramids, which were incredible!
Then we went to the Egyptian museum, and I can't believe how many artifacts are here! One day is not enough to see it all, let alone 4 hours.
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We then went to Old Cairo & the Khan AL Khalili Bazaar where we had lunch. In the evening we enjoyed a sunset felucca ride on the nile, it was amazing! I ended up back at my hotel by 900pm but that's because I had to pack and try to sleep as tomorrow was another big day!
Day 3 - March 4: Arrive in Luxor: Tours of the East Bank
Checking out bright and early at 03:30am (so yes, I was up at 02:45!) I headed to the airport for my flight to Luxor. Arriving at 730 I met my new tour guide and driver who transported me to my new hotel. I took an hour or so to freshen up, and when my driver returned he had a different Egyptologist with him. I loved having these professional historians along with me, to explain what exactly we were seeing at all of the historical sights. I would never dream of doing a tour like this without one, and having my very own private guide was very wonderful. We hit the ground running as we had lots to do and see!
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes. From 1570 to 1069 BCE, Thebes was the capital of Egypt. It became an important center of worship of the god Amun. During the period of 1353 to 1336 BCE, this was the largest city in the world, with a population of 80,000 people. The Nile River splits Luxor into two parts: the East Bank and the West Bank.
We spent the day touring the East Bank, which includes the Karnak Temple and Luxor temple.
Karnak temple is the second largest temple complex in the world (Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the biggest). The East Bank of Luxor is the location of Luxor town. This is where most Egyptians live and work and it is also where you will find the majority of hotels and restaurants.
There are just a few notable sites to visit on this side of the river, but two of these (Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple) are two of the most spectacular sites to visit in Egypt. I was amazed at the massive size of the structures, just incredible! Learning about history as I was walking where ancient Kings walked... incredible. I transferred back to my resort where I had a bite to eat and crashed pretty hard!
First, Karnak Temple:
My hotel resort was fabulous. Situated perfectly beside the Nile river, the rooms had Nile views and watching the sunset at night was heavenly. Breakfast was included and was incredible! The hotel was definitely one of the more luxurious in Luxor and I felt very spoiled!
I did end up going out for an hour this evening to see the sound and light show at Luxor. I felt the show was a little lame and a bit tourist trappy. It was really nice to see the area lit, but the speaker systems were loud and you were guided through the show. Here are a few pictures though!
Accomodations: Steigenberger Nile Palace hotel, Executive Side Nile View: https://hrewards.com/en/steigenberger-nile-palace-luxor
Day 4 - March 5: Hot Air Balloon and Tours of West Bank, Flight back to Cairo
Another very early morning for me as I left my hotel at 3:30 am, this time for a hot air balloon ride over the Sahara desert. WOW!!! This was an incredible experience and a real must do while here.
After the balloon ride I was transferred back to my hotel where my driver and private guide were waiting for our next adventure! The West Bank of Luxor is where the ancient Egyptians buried the dead. Each night, the sun sets on the West Bank, so this became the necropolis, the area that is filled with tombs and mortuary temples, including the famous Valley of the Kings.
Today we toured West bank which includes Queen Hatshepsut Temple, Colossus of Menon, and the Valley of the Kings. It was an incredible experience being down in the tombs - but VERY hot!!!
First stop was Valley of the Kings:
Next is Queen Hatshepsut Temple:
And Colossus of Menon and lunch afterwards:
We had a spectacular lunch afterwards and then if was off to the airport for my flight back to Cairo. My flight was scheduled to take off from Luxor at 6:00 pm as I was headed back to Cairo, so I stayed busy at the airport catching up on some work until my flight to Paris.
Day 5 - March 6: Fly Home
My flight left Cairo at 01:00 am, and at Paris I waited another 6 hours for my next flight to Seattle, and (you guessed it!) another 6 hour layover before I could fly back to Calgary. That was the absolute worst I think, all the long layovers. Once home, my bags were not on the carousel and I really didn't care! I files my claim and drove the 3 hours back home. They showed up a week later and I was glad to have all my special little artifacts to show family and friends.
This was an amazing trip!!! I do NOT recommend doing Egypt in 4 days. At all! I only added it as it allowed me to see a little bit more of the world, in the hopes I can better understand the destinations, attractions, and culture just a little bit better for anyone that is interested. What shocked me most about Egypt was the poverty. I did not expect that. And as I travel many places in the world alone, I did not expect to feel unsafe at any time, but in all honesty I really did the one time I went for a walk alone. What I enjoyed most was definitely the history I was exposed to and learned from both regions in Egypt.